Green spaces are the lungs of any city, and can change a place from choked and congested to vibrant and peaceful. New York may have Central Park, but Oxford has a great number of different green spaces where visitors can relax, soak up the sun, enjoy nature or watch the river go by. But Oxford’s parks are not reserved solely for quiet relaxation — they are also venues for major music events and festivals. The list below is not exhaustive, but gives an idea of the variety of green spaces that Oxford has to offer.


Christ Church Meadow is a large area of tranquil pasture in the heart of the busy city of Oxford, owned and maintained by Christ Church and bordering the rivers Cherwell and Isis. The meadow is open to the public until dusk each day, and provides opportunities for picnics and river walks.

It can be entered through the Memorial Garden entrance on St Aldates, through a gate between Merton College and Corpus Christi on Merton Lane, or through a gate at the eastern end of the meadow next to the Botanic Gardens. Visitors are asked to note the rules about access to and use of the meadow which are posted at the entrances. For more information and photographs visit the website:


Magdalen College deer park is open from October until June 24, from 1pm-6pm or dusk (whichever is the earlier); then from June 25 to Sepember 30 from noon-6pm. Admission is £3 for adults, £2 for concessions and free for Bodleian card holders and Oxford residents. Visit the website for more information.


Port Meadow and Wolvercote Common together are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. They are also part of a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the European Habitats Directive. Port Meadow is famous both for its wealth of birdlife and for its well-preserved Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements. It is still used for grazing livestock by commoners and Freemen of Oxford, so walkers need to take this into account.

The area is popular with migrating birds and bird-watchers should be able to see many kinds of wader and freshwater wildfowl, as well as gulls and terns. There are also plenty of lapwings and golden plovers, if you visit in the winter months. It is also popular with photographers and, in the winter, skaters. Access to Port Meadow is via Walton Well Road or Aristotle Lane (both in Jericho) in the south, or from Wolvercote, in the north. There is unrestricted access.


Across the road from South Park, Headington Hill Park has been home to many of Creation Theatre Company’s magical open-air performances. Opening hours vary greatly with the changing seasons, but tend to be between around 8am and dusk.


Near Keble College, this 70-acre site includes a large duck pond and cricket ground. Access is through the gates in Parks Road, or South Parks Road, and this is suitable for wheelchairs. Opening hours are roughly 7.45am until half an hour before dusk and until 9.30pm in June and July. It is closed for the annual St Giles’ Fair in September. Entry is free. Visit the website: for more information.


Located just off the High Street, opposite Magdalen College, this is the oldest botanic garden in the country, and one of the most interesting. It has roughly 7,000 species of plants set in four acres of land. Some of the exotic plants can be found in tropical greenhouses, and there is also a bog garden and a rock garden. Entrance is off High Street near to Magdalen Bridge. There is wheelchair access to all areas, including the glasshouses.

Opening times are: March, April, September and October, 9am-5pm. Last admission. Admission charges apply seven-days-a-week. May to August, 9am until 6pm. Last admission 5.15pm. Admission charges apply seven-days-a-week.

January, February, November and December, 9am until 4.30pm. Admission charges apply at weekends. Weekdays by donation. Admission prices — annual pass (valid for one year from date of purchase) £10; concessionary season ticket £8.50; day ticket £3; concessionary day ticket £2.50. Children in full-time education accompanied by their parent or guardian, disabled visitors and their carer go free.

For more information, call 01865 286690 or see the website:


With more than 50 acres, this is one of Oxford’s largest parks, along with Headington Hill Park, from which it is separated by the main London Road. It is a popular location for summer events. There is unrestricted access to South Park, which is located at the top of St Clement’s.


Shotover Country Park, on the eastern outskirts of Oxford, covers 100ha of hillside from Shotover Plain down to the eastern bypass. There are two main sections — the southern slopes of Shotover Hill and the flatter, wooded area near the bypass. Brasenose Wood and Shotover Country Park are a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The slopes of this beautiful hill have been settled since the Roman times, and from Saxon times until the English Civil War it was part of a Royal Forest.

The oaks from Brasenose Wood on the south-west side have traditionally provided timber for Oxford's historic buildings, and for centuries the coppice woodland has been used locally for fencing, sheep hurdles and fuel.

On the south side is the village of Horspath, active since before 1066, and on the east the landscaped parkland of the Shotover estate, developed around Shotover House since 1718.

The park is a fantastic place to explore, with a myriad of pathways and cycle tracks running through it. It makes the perfect spot for a picnic on a hot summer’s day, especially by the natural sandpit in the middle of the country park, which has been a magnet for generations of children. Access to Shotover Country Park is free.


If you enoy fine displays of bedding plants then visit this East Oxford park. There is a play area for children, miniature golf and tennis courts. The park was opened in 1934 after the land was presented to the city by Councillor F E Moss, in memory of his sister Florence. It opens daily at 8am. Closing times vary.